Monday, June 30, 2008

Baby Carriers

Before we traveled to China our plan was to carry Grace around with us everywhere we went to facilitate attachment. We found out pretty quickly that it is just about impossible to carry an 18 pound baby everywhere with us. After our second day with Grace our arms were about ready to fall off so we went out and bought a stroller. Although we didn't want to throw the whole attachment parenting thing out the window, luckily Jen's brother let us borrow their baby Bjorn. We carried Grace around quite a bit in the Baby Bjorn while in China. We started out carrying her facing us but soon realized that she was just a little too big for this so we tried facing out which seems to work out OK. But since the max weight on the carrier is 25 pounds we realized that this would not be a good long term solution for us as Grace was approaching 20 pounds. We had a couple instances where the snaps came undone while she was in it and after wearing her in it for a while we would have really sore backs so we decided when we got home to try a different type of carrier.

Jen did a little research when we got home and decided to try out the Hip Hammock. The key features that drew us to the Hip Hammock was that it is a front (really side) facing carrier, you can carry a baby up to 35 pounds in it and it is pretty cheap. Well, I guess you get what you pay for because we really aren't that happy with the Hip Hammock. First of all the thing smells. At first we thought it was moldy or something but I think it is the material that it is made of that has this really bad chemical smell to it. Washing it wouldn't even get rid of the smell. Mostly though our issue is that it is pretty uncomfortable. Jen finds that her leg falls to sleep when she wears it for too long. The material that the straps are made of is pretty harsh and there is not much padding so it gets pretty uncomfortable. It is also pretty difficult to get Grace into it with only one person and adjusting it to switch back and forth between Jen and me is a real pain. We also didn't feel that Grace was real secure in it, almost like she may fall out so we soon realized that the Hip Hammock was not going to work for us.

So Jen went back to google to do some research and we think we have found our Gracie Carrier. The Ergo is reviewed pretty well, people have created their own websites about how much they love it. The only issue is the Ergo is pretty expensive. Some of the things we like about the carrier:

  • It is easy to put on alone. One of the issues with the other carriers is they were very difficult to get the baby in and put on if do not have a second person around. This does not seem to be an issue with the Ergo

  • Grace appears comfortable and safe. As Grace is not a tiny baby we really needed something that we felt Grace was safe and comfortable in

  • Jen is comfortable wearing it. It has really thick padding that doesn't dig into your shoulders like the Hip Hammock.

  • It holds up to 40 pounds. The website says they tested it up to 90 pounds but I can't imagine Grace will want to be carried around into her teen years.

  • You can wear it in 3 different positions: front, back and side.

  • It has a little sleep hood to cover the baby's head from sun or rain.

  • It has a couple little zippered storage pouches

  • It comes with an instructional DVD.

My favorite thing about the Ergo is that they must have had some male input on the design. With the other carriers Grace's feet would be positioned right in front of my groin. So one strategically placed kick and she would (and has) brought me to my knees. They really need to include a cup for dad with some of these carriers. With the Ergo, Grace's feet are lower and by my sides so no more worries about getting kicked. That alone is worth the price for me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back to Work

Kind of a sad day today as it is my last day of vacation. I go back to work tomorrow after two weeks in China and three weeks home. I think I am lucky that I was able to take so much time off as it really allowed me to bond with Grace. I haven't been away from Grace for more than a couple hours over the past few weeks so I am sure I will miss her. Grace usually goes to bed around 8:30 and I usually get home around 6:00 so that really doesn't give me much time with her but I am sure mommy will need the respite and give me my daddy time when I get home. I usually put her to bed so I am sure that will continue as well. Gonna go spend some time with my baby now and make the most of this day.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Milestones - One Month Together

  • When we first got Grace she could barely sit up on her own. Now she can sit up for long periods of time without falling over.
  • Grace used to hate laying on her stomach, she is now tolerating it for longer periods of time.
  • Grace can now roll over on her own without prompting from us. She can roll from back to stomach and stomach to back.
  • In China when we put Grace to bed we would find her in the same position we left her in when she woke up in the morning. Now she usually spins at least 90 degrees and is sometimes laying on her side or stomach in the morning. This sometimes causes a problem as she will stick her legs through the slats in the crib and is not able to roll back so she starts to cry.
  • Grace now has 4 teeth
  • Grace has discovered that it is fun to purposely drop a toy and watch mommy or daddy pick it up. This can be repeated and enjoyed for hours.
  • Grace shakes her head yes and no. She definitely shakes her head no when she doesn't want something. Not sure she really gets the meaning of what shaking her head yes means.
  • In China Grace did not like bath time very much, she now loves it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mommy's Night Out

Last night Jen decided it was time for her to get away for a couple hours so she and a friend went out to the movies to see Sex and the City. What this meant was that I would be alone with Grace for the first time. I wasn't really that concerned about being left alone with her though, I was looking forward to it. Jen went to the 7:30 pm movie and Grace goes to bed around 8:30 so the time we figured the time I needed to spend entertaining her would be short. I usually take care of the before bed bottle and putting her to bed so there would be no change there. Sometimes though, depending on Grace's naps during the day, she can get a bit fussy at bedtime and Jen and I take turns trying to get her to sleep.

So last night we had about an hour of playtime before we started the bedtime routine. At around 8:15 I got her bottle ready and brought her upstairs to change her diaper and put on her pajamas. Her eyes started getting droopy about half-way through her bottle and I knew this was going to be an easy night. She was sleeping before she finished her bottle and I put her in her crib and snuck out of her room just before 8:30.

Jen got home just before 11pm and I had to tell her what a difficult night I had, how Grace had screamed all night and I just got her to bed 5 minutes ago. Jen knows her girl better than that though and didn't believe me for a second. So overall a good night for all of us.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


It was a big day for Grace today as it was her Christening. The Christening was at our local Church and Grace as usual did great. Grace wore a Christening gown that all of Jen's family members have been Christened in for the last 95 years. We were a little worried that it wouldn't fit as she is a little bigger than most babies at Christening age, but a little butter on her thighs did the trick (just kidding). We slipped her jade Buddha necklace under her gown as a little tribute to her roots and culture. Some pics from our day below.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

No Fear

One of the many unexpected things we have found about Grace is she seems to have no fear of anything. One of the main things we have expected to see at this point is stranger anxiety. She just loves new people. Although, Jen and I have been the only ones who have held her thus far I am pretty sure she wouldn't mind being held by anyone. She especially seems to be enamored with older men. By Christmas I am pretty sure we will be letting people hold her, bet she will love sitting on Santa's lap.

I also read somewhere that sometimes children adopted from China infrequently see animals as pets so they will sometimes be afraid of them. Not our Grace. She loves out cat Lucy and we have introduced her to our neighbors' St. Bernard puppy as well as my aunt and uncle's Shih Tzu, no fear there either, she just wanted to grab a handful of fur.

The other day Jen forgot to turn on the fan while showering and the steam caused our fire alarm to go off. I was dressing Grace at the time right next to the alarm. This alarm is loud and usually scares the hell out of us when it goes off. Grace definitely heard it but was more curious than scared of the weird noise out in the hall. We had a pretty good thunderstorm the other night, that didn't seem to bother her much either. The 4th of July is coming up I think she is going to love the fireworks.

Last week Grace had a doctor's appointment where she had a TB test where they stick a needle under the skin, she didn't even cry during the procedure. Right after the TB test we went down to get some blood drawn. They took about 8 vials of blood from her little arm. She did cry during the blood draw but was smiling pretty soon after. Next week she goes back to start her vaccinations, we are curious to see if she remembers what needles are all about and if we see any fear then.

I am not sure what to make of this lack of fear she seem to have. We don't know if she is just a laid back baby or if it is some kind of survival mechanism that she developed while living in orphanage / foster care. We learn more and more about her every day so only time will tell.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bonding and Attachment Progress

Many people have been asking how our bonding and attachment has been going with Grace. We have to honestly say that it is really still too early for us to tell. We have been home for almost two weeks and have had Grace for over three weeks. I don't think we are going to see true attachment that quickly.

We are lucky though that Grace is an easy baby. She is happy, playful, quick to smile, barely ever cries, is easy to put to sleep and eats well. When she was first handed to us she didn't cry, she just checked us out and we had her laughing by the time we were back in our room. Our bonding and attachment to her was quick and easy, we instantly fell in love. We think she likes us, but we don't think she knows yet that we are here for the long haul. She has a very outgoing personality and smiles at everybody. When the
baby snatching incident happened in China Jen noticed that Grace never looked back for me when the waitress took her. Probably because it was too soon for any attachment to be formed. By our last days in China we started to notice a little attachment where she would cry out a little when either of us would leave the room. She is also starting to snuggle into us more than she did the first week so we are definitely seeing progress.

We have read quite a bit about attachment and were expecting Grace to develop some anxious attachment behaviors toward us. We haven't seen any anxiousness yet although nobody has held her other than us since we were in China. Maybe it is just her personality and she will never get that stranger anxiety or maybe she already does realize that we are her parents and are here to stay. It is so hard to know for sure. I do think when she is truly attached to us we will know. I don't think it is going to take just weeks but probably more like months until she trusts us and realizes we are her parents. So we are going to stick with the attachment parenting thing as long as we feel we need to make Grace realize we are her forever parents.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

1st American Restaurant and Impromptu Gathering

On Friday night we took Grace out with us to her first American restaurant. Before traveling we often wondered how much our life would change once we had Grace home. While in China we ate out in restaurants every day so now that we are home eating out is really no big deal. Jen and I were really craving steaks and beer so we headed out to our local steak house with Grace in tow. As we expected she did great. She charmed all of the waitresses, knawed on some bread crust and didn't even fuss one bit.

Last night one of Jen's college friends, Michelle, was in town with her new daughter. Biren and Kris also came over with the twins. Kind of funny that all of the girls are within a couple months of each other in age. We coudn't miss the opportunnity to stage our own version of the red couch photo. Our couch is blue though, we do live in a blue state so I guess it is appropriate.

And of course today is my first Father's day. I have to say that I really have to be the luckiest guy in the world to be blessed with such a sweet and beautiful daughter and wife.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Regarding Lucy

Many people have been asking how Lucy (our cat) has been doing now that we have Grace home. We were a little concerned about how Lucy would react as she tends to be a little rambunctious and loves to be the center of attention.

Overall, Lucy is doing pretty well. She is definitely not happy with the whole situation. She has let us know she is not happy by vomiting on our floors. She keeps her distance for the most part. I think she is really not sure what this creature is that has taken away all of her attention and makes all the noise. She has given Grace a sniff but obviously doesn't like her smell as she usually doesn't stick around too long.

Grace on the other hand seems to really like Lucy. We thought she may be a bit scared of her but she seems very curious and giggles when Lucy runs by. We haven't let her pet her yet as that would probably not turn out too well if Grace grabs a fistful of fur.

I think we are lucky that Grace is not yet mobile. This will give Lucy a chance to get used to Grace a bit before she starts getting chased. Grace has had a cold since we left China that she is just now starting to get over. We were wondering for a while if it might be an allergy to Lucy but as she seems to be getting better I think we are OK.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Orphanage Pics

You may remember that after we got our referral we sent a care package to the orphanage where Grace was living. In that care package we included among its contents a disposable camera. We got notification that they attempted delivery about a week after we sent it and we got a little nervous that it did not get there because of customs fees. So we ended up sending another care package a week later with another camera. On our family day we were given a bag with the contents of Grace's care packages and were happy to see that both cameras were in the bag.

Last week we had the pictures developed and got some pretty priceless pictures of Grace at the orphanage. We didn't get any pictures of the inside of the orphanage though. We were hoping to see her crib or who her crib mates were. It looks like they took her outside and took random pictures walking around the grounds. I think they took the pictures on different days with each camera as she is in a different outfit and is being held by a different nanny.

Looking at these pictures gives us a really heavy heart as we come to grip with the fact that there is so much about the first 8 months of Grace's life that we do not know. We do know that she was well fed based on her weight of almost 20 pounds. We also think she must have been loved, she has a great little personality and is always quick with a smile. A good disposition like hers does not come from neglect so we will always be thankful to the nannies for the care she was given at YiFeng.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Baby Snatching Incident

One of the more enjoyable aspects of our trip to China was being able to experience a culture that is significantly different than what we are used to. I think culturally China is changing to be more westernized but it is still quite a culture shock when you leave the hotels and get out and mingle a bit.

I think in order to really enjoy a trip to China you need to be pretty laid back and open minded. You will get stared at by people in China, you will also have people say things to you or about you and you won't understand what they are saying. We would usually just smile and usually would get a smile back. Although even the most open minded and laid back person will sometimes have something happen that they just aren't prepared for. One such incident happened to us in Nanchang.

We were out for lunch with our travel group in a really nice restaurant. I think we has spent the morning getting some paperwork prepared for Grace's passport. After we finished eating Grace was getting a bit fussy so I got up with her and started to walk around as that usually calms her. As I was making my way around the room with her some of the waitresses started coming over and commenting on Grace. Grace is pretty chubby so the comments were usually related to her chubbiness. An older waitress came over and held out her hands to hold Grace. As we are trying to foster bonding and attachment and are trying to be the only ones to comfort Grace I smiled, shook my head no and took a step back. Undeterred the waitress took a step forward and put her hands around Grace to take her from me. I again smiled, took a step back, shook my head and said no. By this point the woman has a pretty good grip on Grace and started pulling. I tightened my grip on her but soon realized that if I didn't let go I was going to hurt Grace. Finally after a few seconds I let the woman take her but stayed right with her. I am sure she saw the look of panic on my face as she started to leave the room and another waitress said something to her and she handed her back to me.

Jen was was watching this all occur from across the room and I think was just as panicked as I was. I think I am lucky that she has allowed me to hold Grace since. In reality we had nothing to worry about, the Chinese just love children and she just wanted to hold Grace for a few minutes. But it did freak us out a little bit having only had Grace for a couple days. Grace seemed to be unfazed by the while incident and we laugh about it now but not something we expected to happen.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Jet Lagged

Our jet lag didn't seem too bad when we first arrived home but it seems to have crept up on us the last couple days. Grace continues to do great. Except for waking up at 3am this morning and not wanting to go back to sleep she seems to be adjusting really well. We have been trying to keep her naps short during the day to get her back on US time so hopefully soon we will all be adjusted.

We have had a pretty busy weekend with lots of visitors and visits to friends and family. Some pics from our weekend below.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Yesterday was a long, long day. We all got up around 5 am and headed to the airport for Hong Kong. It was a bit cloudy when we got there but Hong Kong looks beautiful. I wish we could have spent some time there, unfortunately we were just passing through. Here is a pic we took from our gate.

At the airport we got a quick bite to eat and then we were off for our fourteen hour flight. Luckily there were no delays leaving Hong Kong but the flight was pretty rough. Grace actually did really well, she slept quite a bit, we on the other did not sleep much at all.

We were seated at the back of the plane which helped a little as were were able to mill around when we or Grace got a little stir crazy. Finally we arrived in Chicago for our layover which turned out to be 2 hours longer than we expected since there were some weather issues in Boston. Not something you want to hear after being awake for over 24 hours. But we muddled through and finally we took off for our final leg of our trip home. We had a nice reception waiting for us at the airport: Grammy, Grandpa, Stephen, Maura, Kristen and Lauren had signs, tears and hugs for all of us. We were seated on the last row of the plane so they had to patiently wait for everyone else to get off the plane to greet us. Some pics of our reception below.

When we got home to find our nieces had been by to decorate the house with welcome home messages for us and Grace. By the time we were all able to get to bed it was after 1am and we were all pretty wiped. Grace went to bed pretty easily and slept until around 5am and then we all went back to sleep until about 11am. We are still pretty tired but we don't feel too jet lagged. I think we will all get back on US time pretty quickly. Today we had a doctor's appointment for Grace, just a quick check up and we are happy to report that we have a healthy girl.

Tonight we put Grace to bed at her normal time as she was pretty tired and didn't nap much as we had some running around to do. We really can't believe that we are finally home with her. We are so looking froward to introducing Grace to all our family and friends over the next few weeks. It will be nice now that we can get into a routine and really start the bonding and attachment. We really do feel so incredibly lucky to have Grace home. I have some many cool things that happened on our trip that I want to blog about in the next few weeks, just no time for that now. We are off now to try to get the house re-organized and get some much needed sleep.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Red Couch Chaos and Last Night in China

So sad to be leaving China tomorrow, we had such a good time here and got the most precious gift that anyone could imagine, our daughter. But we will be glad to finally be home, we are just not looking forward to that 14+ hour flight. We just hope the trip home isn't as crazy as some of the flights getting here. This will be my last post from China since we are leaving the hotel to catch our flight at 6am tomorrow morning. We first fly to Hong Kong, from Hong Kong we go to Chicago then finally home.

This morning our travel group met in the hotel lobby to take the traditional red couch photos. If you have ever tried to get an 8 month old to look at a camera you know how difficult it can imagine trying to do that with 14 babies. It was just chaos....babies crying, falling over and bunch of parents trying to get it all on film.

After our red couch photos we went out one last time to finish up our shopping. Since Grace has a seat of her own for the flight home she also gets to bring home her own suitcase of loot. After shopping we had an appointment at the US Consulate for Grace's swearing in ceremony. This was our last step in the process, although she isn't a US citizen yet but she will be once we get through immigration in Chicago. They wouldn't let us bring cameras into the consulate but I was able to get one outside.

We had dinner tonight at an Italian restaurant in the hotel with a couple other new parents. It wasn't quite North End quality food but it was pretty good and we had a good time reminiscing about our time in China. Just a pic of some silliness from dinner tonight and an obligatory cute pic of Grace. See ya on the other side!!!!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Just a couple more days...

We are getting a little sad that we only have one more full day in China and then we leave early Wednesday. As much as we can't wait to get home and introduce Grace to everyone we are really going to miss China.

Today our guides went to the US Consulate for us to file the final paperwork we have to complete to bring Grace home. We had to stay around for a couple hours to make sure everything was OK and in case they had any questions. Around noon we got work that we were all set so we were free for the rest of the afternoon.

First we needed to go back into town and pick up Jen's new eyeglasses. We took care of that in less than an hour so we had plenty of time to continue shopping for souvenirs and gifts for Grace. We just love walking aroud Shaiman Island and visiting all of the shops. The parks here are really beautiful and all of the people working in the shops are so nice. Grace has gotten a ton of free gifts from the shop owners when they see her chubby little cheeks.

This evening we had a dinner cruise on the Pearl River. It was a bit of a rainy night but Grace made the most of it by allowing us to feed her noodles and watermelon with chopsticks. Many of the cities here in China are very Las Vegas-like with high rises being all lit up.

After dinner another one of the new dads and I headed over to the bar at the White Swan for a drink and a celebratory cigar. Tomorrow morning we have our red couch photos scheduled to be taken. The red couch photos are taken on some red couches at the hotel. It is a tradition that all families get photos of their travel groups taken on these couches before we leave. Tomorrow afternoon we have Grace's swearing in ceremony at the US consulate where she becomes a US citizen. Just one last pic of our happy family from today.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Buddhist Blessings

We took off pretty early this morning to go to the Buddhist temple to get the babies in our group blessed. When we got there there was a ceremony already in progress so we had to wait a while for it to finish. It was so peaceful to just walk around the grounds and listen to the monks chant in the background. When it was our turn we were allowed to enter the temple. We had to take off our shoes and kneel down. The monk chanted for a few minutes and then walked around and sprinkled water on all of the babies' and parents' heads. It was definitely a spiritual and moving experience.

After the blessing we went to another jade store for some more shopping. Jen was able to find a jade pendant for herself and one for Grace. When we returned to the hotel we had to finish up a bit of paperwork and then we were off on another adventure. Jen realized after our flight from hell the other night that she had lost her glasses somewhere in the plane. Jen is pretty much blind without her glasses so we really needed to do something about it. We figured there is probably not much of a chance of finding them so our guides suggested taking a taxi to the eyeglasses market to get some new ones. In Guangzhou there seems to be entire streets dedicated to selling certain things. We saw an electronics markets and we wandered through a hardware market. So we made our way in and found ourselves on a street with hundreds of eyeglasses stores. We were pretty quickly able to find a store where someone spoke English and Jen was able to order herself a new pair of glasses pretty inexpensively. We have to head back in tomorrow to pick them up. The only problem we had is it was so busy in the area that we had a hard time getting a cab to bring us back to the hotel. But we did have fun wandering around and being stared at by people wondering what a white couple with and Asian baby was doing there.

When we got back from the eyeglasses excursion we were able to get a bunch more shopping done. We are trying to find a gift for Grace for each of her birthdays until she turns 18 so we have a bit of shopping left to do. Tomorrow we have a little more shopping planned and a dinner cruise on the Pearl River.

Grace was so good today as we dragged her around shopping and through the markets but I think we may be in for a rough night tonight, Grace has a cold and has woken up a few times already and it is after midnight.

A couple pics from our excursion and of Grace from today.